The idea was the brainchild of mum Jenny, whose five-year-old son has non-verbal autism
Supermarket giant Asda has launched a new scheme to make shopping less stressful for children with autism.
The Happy Little Helpers shopping lists were created by one of the retailer’s employees, whose five-year-old son has non verbal autism.
The colourful shopping lists show a range of items such as milk, bread and bananas that the child can tick off once they’ve been added to the trolley.
Jenny Barnett came up with the idea after seeing how her son Charlie’s school uses symbols and pictures to help him communicate.
She felt it would help him to stay interested and engaged during their shopping trips.
After a successful trial in the Middlesbrough store, where Jenny works, they are now available in more than 300 larger Asda stores.
Jenny and Charlie with the list
Those Greater Manchester with the lists include Altrincham, Ashton, Bolton, Chadderton, Farnworth, Harpurhey, Horwich, Hulme, Hyde, Leigh, Longsight, Middleton, Pilsworth, Radcliffe, Reddish, Rochdale, Sedgley, Shaw, Stockport, Swinton, Trafford Park, Wigan and Wythenshawe.
Others further afield include Accrington, Birchwood, Blackburn, Burnley, Chorley, Colne, Crewe, Fleetwood, Golborne, Rawtenstall, Warrington and Winsford.
Though the activity was originally designed for children with autism, it’s available to all children. The board also has a clip so it can be easily fastened to a trolley during a shop.
Jenny, 32, who has worked at the store for eight years, said: “I’m over the moon that this has been rolled out to hundreds of Asda stores – I’m chuffed to bits.
“It’s such a nice feeling that I can walk into an Asda miles away and see another child benefiting from my idea – it’s going to help so many children which is great.
“Customers and colleagues have said to me it’s a great idea.”
Jenny came up with the idea to help her own son
Asda’s community champions are holding awareness events from now until Sunday – featuring information boards to launch the initiative in the participating stores.
Sital Mistry, from Asda’s community team, said: “Jenny’s Happy Little Helpers game is a fantastic idea that shows real innovation. We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to make the Happy Little Helpers available nationwide for more of our customers.”
The scheme has been welcomed by the National Autistic Society, where Tom Purser, the charity’s head of campaigns and public engagement, said: “The National Autistic Society is always delighted to hear about shops and services making small changes to ensure their venue is as autism friendly as possible.
“Supermarkets can often be a very overwhelming place for people on the autism spectrum and Jenny’s visual shopping list idea is a great way to help reduce the overload and make shopping a more pleasant experience for autistic children and their families.
“Asda’s initiative is a great example of an organisation taking the trouble to understand how autistic children and adults experience the world and we hope other retailers are inspired to follow their example.”
It’s not the first time Asda has taken steps to help families of children with autism.
Last year it launched a ‘quiet hour’ at the Asda Living store at the Cheetham Hill to help autistic and disabled people.
It proved so popular that eight other shops at the Manchester Fort retail park said they would be doing the same.